Judo: Duo bag bronze medals in Paris
PUBLISHED: 12:24 13 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:24 13 February 2018
Local judo stars Ashley McKenzie and Nekoda Smythe-Davis both won bronze at the Paris Grand Slam at Accor Hotels Arena, writes Sarah Loko Guerschner.
Willesden’s McKenzie, 28, beat the Czech Republic’s Pavel Petrikov in the under-60kg category, before losing his quarter-final to Japan’s Toru Shshime after a third shido.
He bounced back to win his repechage contest against Frenchman Richard Vergnes and a quick tai-otoshi ippon against Brazil’s number one seed Felipe Pelim secured bronze in front of fiance Automne Pavia, a London 2012 Olympic bronze medalist for France, and six-month old daughter Lana-Rose.
It was a nice present for a man who funds all of his tournaments out of his own pocket and he said: “I feel the best a man can feel when you have the pressure of your daughter and amazing wife watching. I’ve always wanted to have a medal in Paris, so to get it for the first time in front of my new-born girl and Automne is just amazing.”
Smythe-Davis, 24, had won bronze at the 2017 World Championships in Hungary and beat Bulgaria’s former European silver medalist Ivelina Ilieva, young American Maria Holguin and South Korea’s Jinsu Kim.
That set up a semi-final with world silver medalist and current world number two Tsukasa Yoshida, of Japan, who had won their only previous contest.
And Smythe-Davis was ready for another battle, taking the bout to a golden score before Yoshida finally managed to throw the Team GB international by ippon.
It was another very tactical battle in her bronze contest against Israel’s Timna Nelson-Levy, but showing lots of focus and a strong grip and good strategy, Smythe-Davis forced the Israeli to pick up her third shido.
“Winning a medal in Paris was one of my dreams so I am really happy that I could do this,” said a delighted Smythe-Davis, who has her sights set on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I am still waiting for a gold medal, but bronze is still good. I felt strong. Training has been going very well so I was expecting a strong performance and I felt I gave that.”